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JOLLY GOOD SHOW
E.M. Swift
April 17, 1989
Nick Faldo overcame weather redolent of his native England and, in a sudden-death playoff, Scott Hoch to win the Masters
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April 17, 1989

Jolly Good Show

Nick Faldo overcame weather redolent of his native England and, in a sudden-death playoff, Scott Hoch to win the Masters

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On Friday, Ballesteros four-putted the 15th hole—he misfired twice from three feet—for a double-bogey seven. "For some reason the ball didn't go in two times," he said. His only reaction was a mild rebuke of his ball—"you son of a bitch"—in Spanish. "I tell you, I tried my best," Ballesteros said later. "I guess everyone has to pay duties for the week. I hope I paid mine today on 15."

The spectators certainly were paying their duties. When the weather went from cold and windy on Friday to cold, windy and wet on Saturday, under-dressed fans made a run on the pro shop. By late afternoon the place looked as if it had been ransacked by looters. Umbrellas ($31): sold out. Sweatshirts ($45): sorry. Rain suits ($60): uh-uh. About the only articles of clothing left were the $300 cashmere Argyle sweaters.

Fourteen players were still on the course Saturday evening when play was halted because of darkness. Crenshaw, who won the tournament in 1984 after a similar rain-interrupted third round, had teed off on 14 and was the only player in the field in red figures, at four under. His playing partner, Ballesteros, was falling apart and stood three over par, having snap-hooked a drive into the trees on 13, which led to a bogey six. "The hot blood went through, you know?" Ballesteros later said of that hole. Faldo was even, tied with Hoch and Mike Reid. Norman, who was the leader in the clubhouse with a 68 before the worst of the rains came, was one over. Asked if he would play conservatively with a four-shot lead, Crenshaw replied, "I'm going to try to build a bigger lead than I have. I know what can happen around here."

But not even the Augusta-wise Crenshaw could have foreseen how many low scores would be turned in on Sunday, the first windless day of the tournament, when the course was left defenseless, its lightning greens slowed by the heavy rainfall.

Ballesteros made the first move. Sunday morning he birdied three of the last five holes of the delayed third round to get back to even par for the tournament. And when he teed off Sunday afternoon, he picked up where he left off, birdieing four of the first five holes en route to a front-side 31 that included only 10 putts and a holed 25-foot sand shot from a greenside bunker on number 2. Suddenly, Crenshaw, who had closed out his third round with a bogey at 18 to finish three under, was playing catch-up.

Faldo also had to complete his third round on Sunday morning—but he lost two strokes to par in the process, to end up with a dreadful 77. "I was really despondent about my putting. As soon as I finished I went to the locker room and got a new putter," he said. "But then I thought, You're only five shots back. This is the hardest tournament in the world to win if you lead after three rounds."

Don't remind Crenshaw. He shared the lead after the third round of the 1977 and '87 Masters, but won neither. On Sunday afternoon Faldo went out in 32, bogeyed number 11 and then put together an improbable string of birdies on 13, 14, 16 and 17 to shoot 65 and finish at five under. After signing his scorecard, he went to the Jones cabin, hard by the 10th fairway, to wait and see if there would be a playoff.

Norman, who has slowed his golfing pace to a crawl in recent weeks, birdied 9 and 10 to go one under. But he was still four shots behind Ballesteros, Reid and Hoch, all of whom made the turn at minus five. Then the Shark came alive with a frenzy of birdies, sinking crucial putts on 13, 15, 16 and 17. Suddenly, he was standing on the 18th tee tied with Faldo.

After his stunning display of aggressiveness, birdieing six of his last nine holes, Norman chose to play the 18th hole conservatively, driving through the drizzle with a one-iron. It left him in the fairway, 185 yards uphill to the pin. Norman either mishit his approach or misclubbed—he declined to be interviewed afterward—and the ball stopped short of the green. He then pitched poorly and missed a 12-foot putt for par. The same thing had happened to him—Norman is beginning to wear a can't-win-the-big-one label—in the 1986 Masters, when he bogeyed the 72nd hole to miss out on a playoff with Nicklaus.

A few holes back, Reid, who looks more like an accountant than a giant killer, was marching along smoothly until he did what everyone expects accountants to do at this time of year: He stared down at a mess of trouble and plunged in. After taking the lead at six under with a birdie on 12, Reid went bogey, double bogey on 14 and 15, plunking a wedge shot into the pond at 15.

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